WEB DESK: The International Cricket Council (ICC) admitted that the draws for international cricket tournaments are mostly fixed in order to put India and Pakistan into the same group, a British daily Telegraph said in a report.
The draw for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, which was revealed at the Oval on Wednesday, again puts the two countries together, with the reigning champions India beginning their title defence against their traditional rivals at Edgbaston on June 4.
Australia, which won the event in 2006 and 2009, is in Group A with New Zealand, England and Bangladesh, while India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka are in Group B.
India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in the same group fifth time.
Previously, speculations have been made that ICC brought the two old rivals by ensuring draws in a pattern that bring them together in the same group.
This is the first time that the ICC authorities has admitted this publically as the matches between Indo-Pak attract global television audiences more than a billion and guarantee fans and broadcasters another emphasis of the sport’s most lucrative fixture.
“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event,” said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.
“It’s hugely important from an ICC point of view. It’s massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. It’s fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”
The decision to put India and Pakistan together at all costs – a factor that was also behind the adoption of a 10-team round robin format at the forthcoming 2019 World Cup in England – essentially dictated the rest of the draw before it had been made.
Richardson denied that this had a negative impact on the integrity or fairness of the tournament.
“What we try and do is make sure that when you add up the rankings of the different groups, they all add up to the same number of points. You can do that in a number of ways. So long as the pools are balanced, it’s silly to avoid [the fixture] when you can fairly cater for it.”